Starting out

Got something to report? By now you should be offering constructive advice.

Sara Bubb explains.

There are piles of inconsequential paperwork in education nowadays but reports are probably the most important things you write as a teacher.

Every word will be analysed and they'll be passed around families and friends, and kept for posterity.

And who knows which of your little darlings will become famous and the words you wrote late one night will be published for all to see. Let's hope they're as witty as the comment from Stephen Fry's headmaster: "He has glaring faults and they have certainly glared at us this term." Ouch.

Have you worked out how long all those reports will take? Don't be deceived by computer programs: the process still takes ages. If you have a primary class of 30 I reckon the first five will average out at two hours each, which makes 10 hours, the next 20 will average out at one hour each, and the last five might get knocked off in about half an hour each. So you have 32.5 hours worth of writing ahead of you, plus the preparation and proof reading. Let's call it 40 hours of extra work that will have to get squeezed in before the end of June.

If you write yourself an objective about reports you can justifiably spend some of your 10 per cent reduced timetable writing them. Preparation is key. Speak to your induction tutor about what's required. Ask pupils to do a self-assessment to help you give a flavour of the individual. Then draw up a timetable, but pace yourself because they're not something you can rush.

Getting into the style of report writing is a real skill. Remember that even your biggest pain is someone's precious baby. Read last year's reports and talk to other teachers to see how you can be honest and positive.

Choose a straightforward child to write about first to get you into the swing but show it to a senior member of staff for approval before doing the rest. Build rewards into your timetable. The sense of achievement when they're done is fantastic.

Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. She regularly answers questions at

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